1500 South Carrollton Avenue; Mon-Thur 11a-9:45p, Fri-Sat 11a-10p, Sun 12-9:30p; (504) 862-6200, lebanonscafe.com
Hummus with Lamb $13.99
There are nights I wake up with hummus on my mind. This is reasonable, considering the dish’s popularity for thousands of years. Combined with tender morsels of lamb, sautéed with sweet onions and slightly acidic tomatoes, you get a rich ooze to scoop with pita bread, or eat by the overloaded forkful.
Pho Cam Ly
3814 Magazine Street; Mon, Wed-Sat 11a-8:30p, Sun 11a-7:30p, closed Tuesdays; (504) 644-4228; phocamly.com
Pho Combo $9
The combination bowl comes with shavings of raw eye of round, glistening brisket, tendon and meatballs. For just $1 more, you get a larger bowl. For $2 more, you get extra vegetables—usually steamed broccoli and carrots. Ask for the special red chili oil to float on the surface if you need to clear your sinuses or are in the mood for something spicy.
3511 Magazine Street; 11a-9p daily; (504) 894-6238
Doro Wot $13
It’s a modest establishment, but the injera (the spongy, strechy flatbread that serves as both plate, starch and utensil) is impeccable, and so is their rendition of the national Ethiopian dish, Doro Wot, a rich chicken stew served with hardboiled egg. If you prefer beef, get it with collard greens. Most plates arrive with two random vegetable sides. The red lentils are to die for.
Bayou St. John
3141 Ponce de Leon Street; Tue-Sat 11a-9p, closed Sun-Mon; (504) 301-0848; 1000figs.com
Platter: falafel, hummus, beet & carrot slaw, mixed greens, panbread, sauces $12 (add Brussels sprouts or baba ghanouj for another $1)
1000 Figs represents the most successful local transition of a food truck (the Fat Falafel) into a permanent location. The falafel is superb with a crunchy shell surrounding a creamy interior.
Blue Oak BBQ
900 N. Carrollton Avenue; Tue-Sun 11a-9p, closed Mondays; (504) 822-BLUE; blueoakbbq.com
Chicken Leg & Thigh $12.25
So you think you’ve had good barbecued chicken? That’s great, but you’re going to raise your standards for what constitutes a well-cooked bird as soon as you eat it at Blue Oak BBQ. Their chicken is addictive. Their brisket is fabulous and the ribs are too, but the chicken will keep you coming back for more until they’re sold out—and then you’ll order the smoked wings instead. How anyone can spend the time and sorcery required to serve a chicken plate this good for $12 is a mystery. And it comes with two of many sides; make sure at least one of them is Brussels sprouts.
Willie Mae’s Scotch House
2401 St. Ann Street; Mon-Sat 10a-5p, closed Sundays; (504) 822-9503; williemaesnola.com
America’s Best Fried Chicken $11
You get three pieces—huge chunks of crispy chicken that stretch wider than your face. Don’t pay extra for white meat—you’re better off with dark. And don’t fret over the sides, such as canned green beans. You can eat your vegetables later.
923 Decatur Street; 9a-5p daily; (504) 523-1620; centralgrocery.com
Muffuletta, $10.50 (half)
It’s only half a sandwich, but more than enough. Loaded with Italian meats and cheeses and the best olive salad you’ve ever had, this muffuletta drips with enough olive oil to stain at least four outfits. Don’t like olives? Forget about it. Please don’t order a muffuletta “without the olives.” The muffuletta is an olive sandwich. If you want bread with cold cuts, make it for yourself at home—don’t bother these nice Italian folks.
Lower Garden District
Turkey and the Wolf
739 Jackson Avenue; Mon, Wed-Sat 11a-9p, Sun 11a-5p, closed Tuesdays; (504) 218-7428; turkeyandthewolf.com
Lamb Neck Roti $10.40
The corner building on Jackson Avenue and Annunciation Street has undertaken a journey towards tenderness in recent years, starting as a starchy dry cleaner before becoming a plaster studio, a chicken wing joint, a barbecue pit—and now finally, Turkey and the Wolf. There is neither turkey nor wolf on the menu, but it doesn’t come without surprises. The lamb neck roti is savory madness with its tender meat cooked in chilies and caraway, served with lemony yogurt, cucumbers, onions and heady herbs on roti bread. At the price, you might afford one of the fun cocktails or a rerun/redo of your favorite childhood dessert—vanilla soft serve topped with either rainbow sprinkles ($4) or the more adult choice of tahini and date molasses ($5).
3341 Magazine Street; 11a–9p daily; (504) 309-9993; eatpokeloa.com
King Loa Bowl $15
Poke is a simple salad of raw, cubed fish, and the recent phenomenon of combining poke with a rice bowl has vaulted this Hawaiian staple into a national trend. First timers would be wise to order the King Loa Bowl with four scoops of fish (salmon, yellowtail, tuna…) over rice and greens, plus crab meat, thinly sliced baby cucumbers, edamame, seaweed salad, avocado and a rainbow trio of tobiko. The result is salty, sweet and slightly tart from the lemon-miso aioli dressing and crunchy from a sprinkle of sesame seeds that pop in each bite.
930 Tchoupitoulas Street; Mon-Thur 10a-10p, Fri-Sat 10a-11p, Sun 10a-4p; (504) 588-7675; cochonbutcher.com
Le Pig Mac $10
Loaded with two pork patties that melt in your mouth like butter, this is Butcher’s take on the Big Mac. Come hungry; it’s mouth-wateringly delicious—and tall. I always feel like I should eat it Scooby-Doo style, tying it with a ribbon and pulling it smaller just to get it into my mouth.